After Liverpool’s tight 1-0 victory at home to Besiktas in the Europa League, Jack Lusby provides his players ratings for the Reds.
It won’t go down as a modern classic, but Brendan Rodgers will be pleased that his Liverpool side came away from Anfield with a 1-0 victory in their Europa League Last-32 first-leg clash against Besiktas.
Mario Balotelli’s late penalty was enough to seal a slender victory for Liverpool—their first in six games in Europe.
Besiktas boss Slavan Bilic will be similarly happy with his side’s performance, and to come away from Merseyside with victory within reach for the next leg, next week’s clash promises to be a high-intensity duel.
But how did Liverpool’s players perform on the night?
Simon Mignolet – 7 (Out of 10)
With Besiktas focussing mainly in the defensive sector, and Liverpool dominant for the majority of the game, Simon Mignolet had little to do between the sticks on Thursday night.
Nevertheless, the 26-year-old looked very comfortable and exuded authority, with a fine to deny Demba Ba on the break a pivotal moment in the first half.
Emre Can – 6
Far from Can’s greatest performance, the German looked uncharacteristically sloppy in possession, as evidenced by his poor backpass into the path of Ba on 54 minutes.
Improved marginally on his move into midfield just after the hour mark, but even in a more advanced position Can’s screws looked a little loose, with his passing out of sync with Liverpool’s attacking players.
Martin Skrtel – 6
A fairly quiet game for Martin Skrtel, Thursday night nonetheless outlined some deficiencies in the centre-back’s game, namely in being challenged by an energetic forward such as Ba.
Ba had the run on Skrtel for the majority of the game, and the flailing Slovak struggled to recovery with frequency.
Mamadou Sakho – 7
Converse to his defensive cohorts, Mamadou Sakho produced another dominant performance on the left-hand side of the back three.
Strong in the tackle and busily effective when in possession, Sakho helped kick of many Liverpool attacks with his incisive passing.
Jordon Ibe – 7
Making his European debut as Liverpool’s right wing-back, Jordon Ibe would have been forgiven for being daunted by the occasion—particularly with Besiktas a rather physical prospect.
But, confident as ever, Ibe was effective in his direct running—interestingly more towards the byline in this tie—and combined well with Adam Lallana. Ibe could have done more in terms of end product, but his trickery to win the penalty more than made up for this. A solid debut.
Jordan Henderson – 8
Captain-in-waiting Jordan Henderson made his 23rd consecutive appearance (not start) for the Reds against Besiktas but, unlike Philippe Coutinho, didn’t look off the pace in any sense.
A supreme creative presence from deep, and an ever-willing supporting outlet when in the attacking phase, Henderson’s persistence fuelled Liverpool’s victory.
Joe Allen -6
After an exceptional showing in Liverpool’s last outing away to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup, Joe Allen reverted to ineffective anonymity at Anfield.
Although the midfielder helped to break up play efficiently, and move the ball well, there was a lot lacking in the middle of the park—Allen didn’t have enough of a presence in such an important game.
Alberto Moreno – 7
In the early stages, Alberto Moreno looked to be in for another marginal role, with Coutinho taking up a wider berth on the left-hand side of midfield, but as the game went on the Spaniard injected his energy at left wing-back.
Tested goalkeeper Cenk Gonen with an audacious long shot in the first half.
Adam Lallana – 6
Continuing his spell as part of Liverpool’s dual-No. 10 system in the 3-4-2-1, Lallana tried to no avail in linking the midfield with a struggling Daniel Sturridge.
Often having to look wide for the excellent Ibe, Lallana’s central talents with spurned, and as such the No. 20 failed to gain a true foothold on the game.
This was Coutinho’s 18th start in a row for Liverpool, and understandably it showed, with the No. 10 a peripheral figure despite his efforts.
Coutinho faded alarmingly in the second half, with his creative brilliance thwarted by an alert Besiktas midfield, and was duly substituted. About time he was afforded a rest.
Daniel Sturridge – 6
On his first European game for Liverpool, and his first full 90 minutes for the club since his long injury layoff, Sturridge looked too desperate to impress, and this came at the detriment of the team.
His positional work was commendable, but his end product was particularly lacking.
Dejan Lovren, replacing Joe Allen, 63 minutes. – 6 – Taking up the right centre-back role on his introduction, Lovren had little to do in terms of defensive work, with Olcay Sahan in poor form. Wasn’t tested but didn’t offer much elsewhere.
Mario Balotelli, replacing Philippe Coutinho, 63 minutes. – 8 – Mario Balotelli continued his Merseyside renaissance with another decisive substitutes’ performance, by completely changing Liverpool’s attacking landscape. Very busy up front, and took his penalty well.
Raheem Sterling, replacing Adam Lallana, 77 minutes. – 6 – An unsurprisingly muted performance from Raheem Sterling after recovering from recent injury, but the 20-year-old’s introduction did help to stretch the game in the Reds’ favour by adding a counter-attacking threat.
MAKE YOUR RATINGS
[statsfc-player-rater key=2dCG2IPndnJBm4GL141AFJQnx7Wsl6gT3JGGW02u team=Liverpool date=2015-02-19 default_css=false]
Who was your Man of the Match as Liverpool _ at home to Besiktas? Let us know in the comments below.